Media quote Connell in reports on study that found life may thrive under Antarctic caves

BBC NewsCanberra CityNews in Australia, International Business TimesNew Zealand Media and Entertainment (NZME) and Outlook India reported on a new study led by the Australian National University that found animals and plants may live in warm caves under Antarctica’s glaciers. The animals and plants are suspected to be around Mount Erebus, an active volcano on Ross Island in Antarctica, where its steam has hollowed out extensive cave systems, CityNews reported. Forensic analyses of soil samples from the caves revealed intriguing traces of DNA from algae, mosses and small animals, according to the article. Co-author Laurie Connell, a research professor at the University of Maine’s Graduate School of Biomedical Science and Engineering and School of Marine Sciences, said the DNA traces did not conclusively prove plants and animals were still living in the caves. “The next steps will be to take a closer look at the caves and search for living organisms. If they exist, it opens the door to an exciting new world,” she said. The research was published in the international journal Polar Biology.